The Food and Drug Administration has rolled out language aimed at improving the information available to consumers making purchasing decisions.

This month, FDA issued a proposed rule that will help reduce sodium in the food supply and draft guidance to improve labeling standards to help consumers better understand how foods can promote good nutrition. As part of a White House Nutrition event March 24, Susan Rice, the head of the administration’s Domestic Policy Council, said the actions are part of a national strategy on hunger, nutrition and health.

Under the FDA proposal, salt substitutes would be allowed in many foods — such as canned vegetables and cheeses — where salt is an ingredient, Rice said. “Many food manufacturers are already using salt substitutes to lower their sodium content without changing your product's taste or texture,” she said.

FDA explained standards of identity (SOIs) typically describe what ingredients a certain food must contain and what ingredients are optional. Most SOIs do not currently permit the use of salt substitutes. The proposal would amend the 80 SOIs that specify salt as a required or an optional ingredient. “The proposed rule does not list permitted salt substitutes but defines them as safe and suitable ingredients,” FDA said.

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The FDA also released draft guidance on the recommended statements that food companies place on the front of their products to help consumers understand how a food fits into healthy eating patterns. Examples include statements such as “Make half your grains whole grain” and “Eat leafy green vegetables as part of a nutritious dietary pattern.” 

The guidance allows labels to include symbols or pictures to convey a food or food group to encourage nutritious dietary patterns.

FDA noted the draft guidance “provides the agency's thinking about the use of such statements, including recommendations that products contain a meaningful amount of the food, or category of foods, that is the subject of the statement, and that they also not exceed certain amounts of saturated fat, sodium and added sugars.”

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